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Thirty-five Students Participate in Homelessness Project

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—Inside his homemade shelter, Frank Renner was hardly aware the temperature outside had dipped below zero.

Renner, of Madison, N.Y., was one of a handful of students in Morrisville State College’s architectural studies and design and landscape architectural studies programs who slept overnight in portable shelters they made for a class project that addressed homelessness and the architecture of shelter.

During the night, Renner was thankful his team had put so much effort into their dog sled-shaped structure, insulating it with layers of foam insulation board and newspapers. Insulation was an important element of the 12 shelters that were displayed outside of Galbreath Hall. Thirty-five students, who worked in teams, participated in the class project.
Frigid temperatures, with a low of minus five degrees, weren’t the only challenges students faced this year. The rising cost of building supplies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina added to the difficulty of staying within a $75 budget.

So students relied on donated and recycled materials, items they found, and their own innovation to create their structures.

The increase in the cost of plywood gave Greg Oliver, of Canastota, N.Y., and his teammates, Julio Torres, of Bronx, N.Y., and Ryan Weigand, of Burlington, Vt., the idea of using part of a wooden water bed frame as a base for their shelter instead of spending money on wood. Their innovative design, which resembled a snail shell, was covered with brown tarp and lined with fiberglass insulation and foam.

Renner and his teammates, Walter Budden, of New York, N.Y., and Aaron Lehman, of Alfred Station, N.Y., spent more than 63 hours perfecting their shelter which had red PVC piping on the ends acting as skis for easy transport.

Throughout the project, one message was clear: homelessness exists. Prior to building the structures, students discussed in class the devastation of recent events like Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes in Asia that left thousands of people homeless.

It put things into perspective.

“It certainly brings things home,” Oliver said. “We realized that we can all be made victims of homelessness.”

The annual project involves students researching rural homelessness then combining their research with their design skills to build shelters. Students were required to follow certain criteria that included building a structure that was habitable and accounted for concerns such as ventilation and moisture.

The shelters, which varied in shape and size, showed creativity in obtaining the architectural goals of firmness (structural stability), commodity (attention to function) and delight (beauty, formal consistency).

Students who participated were:
All students are enrolled in the college’s architectural studies and design program unless otherwise noted.
Henry Baba, Japan
Adam Besaw, Keeseville, N.Y.
Jonathan Reichle, Walden, N.Y.
Elizabeth Gage, Mt. Upton, N.Y., landscape architectural studies
Amanda Midura, Clayville, N.Y.
Sabrina Wellington, Weedsport, N.Y.
Walter Budden, New York, N.Y.
Aaron Lehman, Alfred Station, N.Y., landscape architectural studies
Frank Renner, Madison, N.Y.
Vanessa Johnson, Wallkill, N.Y.
Ilir Kita, Albany, N.Y.
Robert Manion, Manorville, N.Y., landscape architectural studies
Gregory Oliver, Canastota, N.Y., landscape architectural studies
Julio Torres, Bronx, N.Y.
Ryan Weigand, Burlington, Vt.
Kil-Hun Kim, Korea
Matthew O'Reilly, DeWitt, N.Y., landscape architectural studies
Sarah Raymond, East Berne, N.Y.
Jerilyn Hale, Amenia, N.Y.
Michael Laster, Bronx, N.Y.
Jack Rader, Katonah, N.Y., landscape architectural studies
Stefan Bain, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Justin Pearson, Theresa, N.Y.
Dwayne Smith-Malcolm, Bronx, N.Y.
Michael Gage, Tillson, N.Y.
Melissa Rose, Esperance, N.Y.
Jeremy Haak, Williamson, N.Y.
Eridania Munoz, Rochester, N.Y.
Gabriel Parra-Merrell, Wolcott, N.Y.
Lachic Foster, Brockton, Mass.
Jason Martin, Norwich, N.Y.
Eric Wilson, Olmsteadville, N.Y.
Dwight Berry, Jr., of Peekskill, N.Y.
Matthew Bonner, Norwich, N.Y.
Amanda Mariano, Waterville, N.Y.

Morrisville State College offers 12 bachelor degrees and a wide variety of associate degrees and options. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine. The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus also offers programs in business, technologies, liberal arts/education transfer, and nursing to Chenango County area residents and employers.